Lawmakers approve immunization bill minus House amendment
By Aaron Payne in News | WV MetroNews
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state legislature approved an immunization bill on the last night of the legislative session without an amendment that sought to lessen the role of the state Bureau of Public Health.
After nearly an hour of debate earlier Saturday, the House passed an amended version of the bill (SB286) related to exemptions to compulsory immunizations of students.
The major amendment would eliminate the Bureau of Public Health’s ability to add vaccines through the state’s current medical exemption process.
Delegate Nancy Guthrie ((D-Kanawha) said prohibiting the medical experts within the DHHR from those decisions could jeopardize an area in which the state does well.
“We don’t have a whole lot of good, public health statistics in this state. This is one of them,” she said. “The Senate bill accomplished the task [of allowing for exemptions]. If we cannot take the Senate bill and leave it alone, we should just kill this bill.”
Delegate Patrick Lane (R-Kanawha) countered that a majority of the vaccines required would still be required, the exemption request process would still go through the DHHR and the agency would still have the ability to take action during emergency situations.
The amendment, he argued, is believed to protect the individual from a “one-size-fits-all” ruling.
“If you’re afraid that there’s a bureaucrat someplace who’s going to make someone somewhere take a vaccine that may be contraindicated where there is a specific precaution for a child, then vote for this bill.”
The bill was headed to conference committee but failed to make a final night deadline for conference committee reports. The House ended up passing the Senate version of the bill without the House’s amendment.